Thursday, 24 March 2011
SYD BARRETT: ART AND LETTERS at the IDEA GENERATION GALLERY
Crazy diamond Syd Barrett. Acid gobbling casualty of the coutnerculture. Who washed his hair in Mandrax. Who left an important piece of his brain somewhere in a club on Tottenham Court Road. Who on occasion could neither play nor speak. Who bite off his manager’s finger. Whose drug-deadened eyes were caught by Mick Rock. Who walked from London to Cambridge. Who became a recluse holed up in his mother’s house.
This is not the Syd Barrett of Art and Letters, which collects unseen photographs, letters and original artworks to offer a far more positive portrait of a creative and sensitive soul. Who wrote and illustrated love letters to girlfriends to arrange visits and patch up quarrels. Who experimented in ink, oil, watercolour, lino print, mosaics, collages and sculptures. Who stood in the garden proudly showing off his latest five foot painting. Who made his first stage appearances with The Tea Set. Who didn’t want to rent “horrid No Coloured Allowed” flats yet didn’t want to deprive others with the alterative. Who excitedly described and drew his first recording session with Pink Floyd. Who larked around with his dandified band mates as new shiny pop sensations. Who didn’t want to brag he’d become rich and famous.
Art and Letters is full of life, fun and vitality. It’s a delight to see and one of the best exhibitions the consistently savvy Idea Generation Gallery has put on; comprehensive and full of fresh insights. In some ways though, the implication art student Syd’s preferred path of painter was derailed by his musical side project only adds to the nagging sense of tragedy.
Syd Barrett: Art and Letters is at the Idea Generation Gallery, Redchurch Street, London, E2 7JB until 19th April 2011, admission free.